(MENAFN - Arab News) Yemen has seen a recent upsurge in the number of currency counterfeit crimes and police reports show that the scale of the problem in the country is grave. A day hardly goes by without a new case involving fake currencies being disclosed.
The Saudi riyal and US dollars are two foreign currencies that are commonly counterfeited in Yemen. In September, the seizure of counterfeit foreign currencies reached a high point when police in Aden seized SR55,000 in fake notes that were being sold by two young Syrians. The money was all in SR500 bills and had been brought to Yemen from Lebanon.
On questioning the Syrians, detectives were led to two men who had SR10,000 in their possession. In another place, police seized SR5,000 in the possession of six Yemeni men. All of those arrested were taken to court. In Hadramout's coastal city of Sheher, two young men entered a jewelry shop and bought items using fake Saudi currency.
A judicial source in the southern city of Mukalla who is dealing with counterfeit crimes told Arab News that if the counterfeiter is a Yemeni state employee, then he would be sent to prison for seven years otherwise five years in prison, regardless of how much the counterfeit currency might be. Non-Yemeni counterfeiters are usually sent to the capital for prosecution.
"SR500, 100 and 200 Yemeni riyal bills are the ones that are mainly counterfeited. With the advancement of computer technology, the counterfeit business has become easy. A popular forgery method is digital printing using computer scanners and high-resolution printers," said the source who asked for his name not to be published.
In an attempt to rein in on the spread of counterfeit currencies in the country, the Yemen Central Bank (YCB) released in August what was touted as induplicate bank notes. The YCB dished out posters offering people pointers on how to guard against forgery. The new paper was a 250 Yemeni riyal note and improved the 1,000 Yemeni riyal note.
However, that effort was to no avail. On Nov. 25, police seized two people from different parts of the country and found a fake 250 note in their possession.
A recent official report by the Ministry of Interior showed that Yemeni security forces recorded last year 68 counterfeit crimes. Dozens of people were put on trial and several printers were confiscated.
To avoid being deceived by false currencies, many shopkeepers in Mukalla have refused to buy foreign currencies, especially Saudi riyals or US dollars.
"We don't know how to distinguish fake currencies and I have been duped before," said a shopkeeper.
Customers who are duped into taking fake notes usually tear them up, sell them on to other individuals, or use them to pay for foodstuffs from small shops that do not have counterfeit detectors. Most people prefer the latter.
Saleh Saeed Al-Omgy, deputy manager of Mukalla-based Al-Omgy Money Exchange, told Arab News that his company has trained its employees on how to recognize counterfeit bills. "We also have counterfeit currency detectors in all of our branches when we discover a fake note, we inform the customer and give him two choices: either tear it up or call the police," he said.
By Saeed AL Batati